the WAFFLE page

February 29, 2012. Well, well, well, guess what? I commented on Sue's Meal on Wheels last night as I poured my own feed down my tube and asked if the service was free. "No way," Lindsay said, "$9 each... $45 for a 5-day week." Hmmm, and that's for only one person. Lindsay buys his own food - frozen ready meals from the supermarket. When I was carer, they got me for free and all their groceries/food/meals delivered for about $30 a head, 7 days a week. On average I could feed the 3 of us for the cost of 1 Meal on Wheels. But that was back in the good old days before Lindsay remarked, "You can't even do anything for Sue now." 

Tomorrow is pay day. The last one was two weeks ago, the day I got my first zap at Port Macquarie. Two weeks seems like ages. Normally, the weeks between pay days fly but not now. It's probably the lack of things to do... no cooking, no shopping... maybe even no interest in anything.

Averil came to the rescue this afternoon with a bit of a natter to help my speech therapy, and to provide a change of routine. She reckons my speech is getting better and that my tongue is improving, which is all good. I do have a shortness of breath now and then and that's something I've been meaning to talk to my doc about. Maybe I could do with one of those puffer thingies asthmatics use.

Back in late 90's after I'd met and gotten to know Cody, I'd had a series of ISPs over the years rip me off by charging a fortune. Then I did a search of ISPs and found a stack of them, some charging as little as $40 a month which back then was el cheapo. One was Comcen, and I went with them. They were great and helped me out a lot as a novice webmaster, especially with hosting MRB and other sites, including this one. Their own techies helped me out too by popping around to my place and fixing things for a few bucks "on the side". One actually built me a machine out of odd bits and pieces. Their place was just a few suburbs away. Anyway, I'm still with them, and this is what they look like today. I just got their email message.

Yes, a lot has changed since those MrB days, but according to Comcen's usage stats, Codysworld is still getting between 3.5 and 4,000 visits a month, and MrB is getting about 5,000 a month.

Well, I better post this Waffle and settle into the evening routine... for what it is. Gary

February 28, 2012. And one more to go cos it's leap year. 

Not much leaping around here though. Lots of sleeping instead. My dietician wrote to say the banana was a bit ambitious hehe. Yeah, well ya live and learn. The problem with all the mushy snack stuff available is that I'm not a sweet tooth and most of it is desert.

TX Greg sent a reminder about the negative side to putting on weight: And you have to be careful about putting on too much weight so you don't get Dunlap Disease......

What strikes me most about that pic is what exactly do you ask for when you walk into a shop to buy one. Anyway, since my return from Port Macquarie at least my weight has been stable. I think if I lost any more I'd disappear.

Here's an interesting vid I spotted on Youchewb titled "Now That's A Bomber!"... interesting viewer comments too. Also, I heard a comment on a news program the other night that over 40% of the world's military budget is spent by the US. Wow. That's BIG.

It's 31.4C (88F) now but according to the weather page it "feels like" 34C (93.2F). Dunno why but it does. I kinda toyed with the idea of spending a bit of time outdoors but.... well... in a temp that feels like 34? Maybe not. It's a bit sticky as well.

It was Averil's birthday on Sunday, and naturally I forgot. She turned 79. I was there on Monday (the day after) and saw all the cards on the coffee table, including one from our landlady (she owns both houses) wishing Averil all the best for her 80th. Oops! So that explains why the rellos were visiting for the week... Av's B'day. I'm hopeless at remembering those kinda things.

After another slow and dreary day (seems like forever since I was at Rotary Lodge) I suppose I better post this Waffle and toddle off into whatever land until the sun rises to do it all again. Gary

February 27, 2012. Well, I don't know where former PM Kevin Rudd got his numbers from but his challenge to PM Julia Gillard for the leadership of the Labor Party this morning resulted in Gillard 71, Rudd 31. So now Kevin's not even our Foreign Minister any more - no more galavanting around the world and staying at posh hotels - he's now on the back bench. Methinks the fat lady ain't sung yet, and that the Labor Party will still fail to win the next election.

Anyway, that's been the talk of Oz town this morning, with the exception of my barber shop... while I was there, the talk was about my big C drama. Gillard took a back seat. So my haircut and Gillard's win were to the two highlights of my day. Other than that I drove out to my doc's and delivered a document he was meant to collect last time he was here... stuff from Port Macquarie hospital. No drama...

The other night Australian Story had a program called Mary and Me, about a grandmother with cancer. Her survival was hailed a miracle attributed to Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint. I wasn't in the mood for all that miracle stuff so I skipped it. Last night, the show was repeated on another ABC channel and I kinda got interested, so I watched it. The miracle business was treated in a professional, journalistic way, without sensationalism, which I appreciated, and I quite enjoyed watching the program. You might like to watch it on line (if there's no copyright problem).

Whether or not there was some kinda divine intervention, it's still a remarkable story.
BTW, my barber told me to put on some weight. Yeah, well that's easier said than done. I'm still weak and sleepy so I reckon that'll be a while off. Gary

February 26, 2012. Having installed my new digital telly I'm now able to watch programs like this (which is also accessible on the internet) Planet America, a take on American politics by a couple of Aussies, which makes the subject more easily understood by me. Besides, the bloke on the left is funny.

OR Richie wrote: Still I have been following everything on WAFFLE and thought the morning script was pretty damned funny. Actually, that Cleese piece was sent to me by a Red Bubbler who wanted to cheer me up. She succeeded.

Averil's rellos are going back home Tuesday so I whizzed in today for a bit of a chat and a chance to practice a bit of speech therapy. I don't appear to have improved much over the past week. But at least it was something different to do and a change of scenery. Writing used to be enough to occupy me at home most of the day but not now. My brain isn't inspired to think very creatively, and I'm constantly tired.

The surgeon who headed the team on my cancer operation back in Sydney said it would be about 6 weeks before the tongue settled back to normal. Well, it's 52 days so far, and I'm getting a bit antsy.

The rellos are stopping off at a few places on the return trip to Cairns where they live. We were talking about some of the places I know including Ballina. It was a little seaside village when I was there 40 years ago; now it's a tourist resort of 100,000. Nearby Lismore is the commercial hub where I worked as an announcer for 2LM back in the late 60s, early 70s. The audience must have tripled or quadrupled by now, and for me the area would be unrecognizable.

Well, ladies and genitals, if you think of anything interesting to tell me, please do so I can spread it around. Times are pretty dull around these parts lately - except perhaps for the leadership battle of the Labor Party tomorrow between PM Julia Gillard and former-PM Kevin Rudd. I personally think their effort to reunite the party under solid, reliable leadership is like the deck-chair trick on the Titanic. It's all over Rover. I honestly believe no matter who wins the leadership tussle tomorrow, the party will lose the next election. The damage has already been done. Gary

February 25, 2012. A friend of mine came across this piece by John Cleese:


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is canceled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

— John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person

Ah, yes, the Brits and their sense of humor. Remember the Cold War's Big Red Button that would launch an attact on the Russians?

Meanwhile, I gotta find something to keep me occupied during my convalescence - this monotony is driving me nuts. I think I'm beginning to lose my sense of reality. Since when is feeding oneself through a stomach tube 5 times a day normal behavior? And since when is eating a banana a terrifying challenge? I've been looking at a banana on the kitchen bench since yesterday wondering if the thing will choke me to death if I dare eat it. Well, I just cut a bit off the end and tried... and guess what? I ate it... what's more I survived. It wasn't quite as easy as I remember it, and it felt a little foreign-objectish, but at least it didn't kill me and it did more or less what it was supposed to.

Ah! On my second try I discovered why I was so nervous in the first place. I had some difficulty distinguishing my tongue from the banana - my tongue is still partially numb. And there were still two lumpy unchewed bits when I rinsed my mouth after thinking I'd eaten it all. But fortunately no blood. So there ya go... I think that little experiment was a tad ambitious. I'll stick to mashing for a bit longer.

So now it's time to post the Waffle, watch at bit of telly and then hit the sack. Gary

February 24, 2012. Very heavy fog this morning, the heaviest I've seen for a long time. Not sure what that means but according to the forecast, it'll be sunny and warm for the next 7 days. 

My dietician is encouraging me to eat more orally so that I can ditch the tube when my radiation treatment is over. I have one more "quad" that I'm aware of but I'm not sure what happens after that. I suspect I might have to wait a few weeks after the second quad for any after affects to appear before a decision is made to remove the tube. Anyway, I'll do a little shopping today for stuff I can eat without too much trouble... fruit puree, mousse, ice cream, creme caramel, etc. I think it'll be a while yet before I can eat lumpy stuff.

Dave from beautiful Ormond Beach reckons his radiation treatment was a piece of cake: Three or four years ago I had radiation treatments for prostate cancer, something that involved forty sessions (8 weeks, 5 days per week) where I was only under the machine for around 10 to 15 seconds on each visit.  I had absolutely no ill effects from this treatment, and the cancer was completely cured (although I have annual visits for five years to make absolutely sure).  I was told that prostate cancer was by far the easiest to cure with the treatments I had.

Dave is right when he says at least I won't be accused of talking too much with this fat tongue of mine. It really is a pain in the ass. He also mentions the Wing Suit Jumping and how dangerous it is. I guess that's what draws people to it. I would assume that the idea of flight first drew humans to it because it was a way to get from one place to another more quickly, but Wing Suit Jumping is not about practical transportation. For starters you gotta climb a mountain first before you can jump. I'll leave all that thrillseeker stuff to the loonies, thank you very much. I'm happy being a wuss.

Back from shopping... lemon squash (old fashioned lemonade), apple and blackcurrent juice, creme caramel, yoghurt, fruit puree, etc to supplement the tube stuff. The speech therapist phoned to see how I am and solved the mystery of the number of "quads" I'll have - three - one this month (which I've just had), one next month (March) and the final one in April. They're hoping I'll be able to have the stomach tube removed after the second quad, which means I should be eating as much orally as I can now to keep the muscles working.

Legalizing same sex marriage is an issue in the US as well as Oz. The other night 3 same sex couples and their kids dined with the Prime Minister to discuss same sex marriage issues. Sandy and Louise are raising two beautiful young boys in Sydney. John and Steve have been together eleven years and own a butcher shop together in Melbourne. Elaine and Sharon live in Brisbane and flew all the way to Canada to be married, only to come home to a country where their union isn't recognised.

Well, that's about it for today. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

February 23, 2012. TX Greg is wondering I wonder what Cody would have thought about Wing Suit Jumping... Well, I dunno. Cody loved surfing for sure, but I don't think he was a thrill seeker. He may have seen some connection between wingsuit and wingnut though. Anyway, it seems Wing Suit Jumping has its dangers, which I guess is why some people engage in it. Here's Jeb Corliss's jump off Table Mountain last month that didn't quite go as planned... One lucky dude!

Adrenalin is something I've never been addicted to, and I think it's a bit late to change now hehe. I don't even like flying in airplanes. Have I been in a crashed plane? Yep. Fortunately for me, I was in it a week before it crashed. I was checking out a small commuter airline in Sydney to write some radio ads for it, and took a tour of a Beechcraft in the company's hangar. A week later, that same aircraft had a problem gaining height on takeoff, turned back to the runway, failed to make the deck and crashed right into it, killing everyone on board. That would have been about 30 years ago.

It's been a pretty busy day by my standards. My doc arrived this morning (my GP) with a medical student in tow who was keen to check out my stomach tube and remnants of the operation in my mouth, etc. The doc took my blood pressure, asked a lot of questions about my condition, effects from the radiation therapy, pronounced me alive and left. He'll see me again in a month after "quad" 2 at Port Macquarie.

Then I was pouring Nestle Resource 2 down my tube in the kitchen when the new Digital TV arrived. Lindsay didn't see any reason why that should stop me from signing for it, but I convinced him otherwise... and he did. Then Averil phoned and wanted to know why I hadn't been in for "speech therapy" so I zapped in there to chat with her and her rellos for an hour.

When I arrived home I unpacked the TV and discovered that it was a piece of cake to assemble, and that it automatically searched for the various channels available in this area. It's got a remote as well, which died some years ago on my last telly. So all is good.

And I slept a lot today in dribs and drabs. I have no idea why I'm able to sleep several times a day for hours at a time, and all night long as well. Maybe something to do with the body repairing itself. So now I've got a new telly with lots of extra channels... that should keep me happy. Gary

February 22, 2012. Almost breakfast time - 60ml water + 200ml Nestle Resource 2 + 30ml Calogen + 60ml water. Sound yummy? I guess it all looks the same once it's in the tummy, and mine goes straight in there through the tube.

This is the weirdest February I've encountered weatherwise: it's normally hot and humid but right now I'm dressed in track pants and T and feeling a little cool. Outside it's cloudy and about 18C, with a forecast top of 26C. Mind you I'm not complaining. I'd rather this pleasant weather than the steamy and uncomfortable humdity we normally get this time of year. I'll bet the rellos next door are happy too. They hail from Cairns where it's oppressively tropical this time of year.

The problem with having something delivered to your front door is that you have to be there when the postman arrives, and not in the shower, which makes taking a shower on the same day you're expecting a delivery something of a dilemma. However, I seem to have avoided a clash because there's no card at the door to say I wasn't there. It's not that I'm particularly excited by the prospect of my new slimline digital TV, it's just that I wouldn't mind something to relieve the boredom. It's not all that thrillling sitting here all day measuring the distance between tube meals ya know. The next one is in 15 minutes.

However, I did get an email from my dietitian with a bunch of questions about how I'm doing, so I answered all those.

Otherwise I've been thinking about identity again, and how being sick reduces your ability to be YOU (whatever that happens to be). I'm not even sure I know who the hell I am anyway. I think one of my probs is my lack of family closeness. I really don't identify with my parents or brothers, and never have. At least my bros have families of their own to relate to. Maybe this period of recuperation from the Big C is giving me too much time to think dumb thoughts. I need to be DOING more but I don't have energy or incentive.

And my new TV? Nope, didn't arrive, so it will tomorrow. Gary

February 21, 2012. According to Averil's rellos life is all about having a large caravan and three little toy-type dogs to take for walkies in the mornings... even if it's raining a little. That was the vision that greeted me this morning when I looked out our kitchen window into next-door's backyard.  Av's rellos are in their fifties, I think, and kinda headed for retirement... but not just yet. Now they're sitting on camp chairs in the backyard drinking coffee while watching the dogs scratch the grass and sniff things. Does it matter that this is Tuesday in the middle of suburbia with people and their alarm clocks and kids getting ready for school? No, the rellos are on holidays.

Well, I think I can do without three spiky little pooches and their anuses, and a caravan that's 30' long. And fluffy pink slippers for that matter. An old Ford Ute and a slide-on will do me... and the Joneses can bloodywell do whatever they please.

I'm having a coffee now, which is nice, but it would be better with a piece of toast. Trouble is I can't have a piece of toast cos it requires biting and chewing which I can't do yet. Grrrrr.

So what's my new slimline, digital TV gonna be like when it arrives? Slimline and digitial, I suppose. And black. And the picture will be a different shape, and there'll be more channels. My old Samsung, an ancient analogue with the big tube out the back, which sits on a NEC VHS tape player, is destined for the scrap even though it still works. Obsolete and useless, except maybe to some collector of technical bits and pieces. That VHS tape player cost over $400 12 years ago. Now a DVD player costs less than $100. Cest la vie.

Lindsay informs me he's just organized Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to Sue every day. She must be getting a bit tired of the standard of his culinary talents, which are practically zero. At the same time, he must be getting a bit tired of rustling up the grub every night during his favorite TV programs. The poor thing. He didn't say how he's gonna take care of his own meals. I guess he's had his last fillet or T-bone for a while hehe. Meanwhile, no one is looking after me except me.

NC Art responded to my mention yesterday of the Japanese bombing of Darwin Harbor in 1942, which I figured he would: Thanks for the link to Darwin under Japanese attack. So much hell was going on in the Pacific it was hard to single out incidents in the early days of that war. Bulletins daily or hourly about this or that being bombed or overrun kept us busy just trying to locate faraway places with strange sounding names. Someone said the only way Americans learn any geography is when we get into war. The bastard was right on, worse case. I'd never heard of Magdeburg or Peenemunde until I found myself with nice overhead views of such German territory.

Rotary Lodge. How does that operate? Does Rotary International have a connection as a global civic organization? Clubs such as that have different area of interest. I was a long term member of Lions International, which mainly worked in services for the blind. Happy to hear you are more energetic and squawking about L&S. Keep on keeping on.

I guess Rotary does have a global connection. And I noticed that the room I occupied in the Lodge was furnished by Lions. My doc belongs to the local chapter of Rotary (they sponsored Joshua's Public Speaking Night a couple of years ago). Belonging to Rotary is the thing to do if you happen to be somebody of note in the community.

Since I'm free of being Sue's carer and therefore also the clutches of Lindsay, I'm also free to live with whom ever and where ever I choose... alone or share. But with whom would I share? What if they have annoying habits, or dorky friends, or talk too much or whatever? L&S keep to themselves, sleep most of the day and night, never have any visitors/parties and rarely speak to me. They're also like a couple of rottweillers in that they discourage other people from visiting hehe... which suits me. I'm tempted to get a place of my own but I'm not sure it's worth it, especially if I have to pay double the rent. Hmmm...I think I'll leave things as they are at the mo.

By the way, I don't know if you've been following Justin's Blog lately but here's a recently entry:

All drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. Example, the trade name is Tylenol and its generic name is Acetaminophen.. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen. The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra.

After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin. Pfizer Corp announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer.

It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one.

Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of 'cocktails', 'highballs' and just a good old-fashioned 'stiff drink'.

Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research.  This means that by 2020, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them. 

And there goes another day. For me I guess I'm improving a little although it's difficult to measure... it might take a week or two before it's measurable. I can't wait until I'm back to my old self again. Gary

February 20, 2012. I phoned Averil late yesterday to ask if her digital TV plugs straight into the existing aerial, and it does. Cool. Then she asked what size I was getting. "That's not very big!" she said when I told her. Okay, so it's not... I don't want a big one. I want a little one. How the hell am I gonna fit a biggie into a slide-on caravan? Why do so many people insist big is better? I WANT A LITTLE ONE! By the way, I bought it on line today and it happened to be $20 cheaper as a one-off special.

TX Greg was under the impression that Sue paid my carer's allowance. Nope. She's too stingy for that. She's still got the first penny she ever earned. Perhaps S&L should fork out the extra $50 a week for your cooking and shopping while you still live there, only fair. You could hang a sign in the kitchen "Gary's Bistro" and then charge them for meals!!!

Actually, the Kelly menu looks pretty tasty. I know Lindsay misses my cooking already, and so does Sue, but that's too bad. The chef's quit. Besides, I'm on a liquid diet through a stomach tube, so I ain't cooking, and I probably won't be for another month or so. It's all a bit of a culture shock for Lindsay because he's been riding the gravy train for 10 years. I was never his carer but he got fed anyway, and all his shopping done. Meanwhile, Greg's been paying attention over the years and making notes of what I cook hehe, and he knows it all by heart. He reckons I'm a great cook. Well, I'd say I'm adequate.

Once I get back to being able to eat properly, I'll start to cook the things I like again instead of always cooking stuff for BORING OLD LINDSAY AND SUE who have the most dismal tastes in food. They don't like spicy.

A samba started playing this morning as my email downloaded and sure enough there was Joao's name: We are in plain Carnaval here in Brazil and what I’m doing? Sitting on a chair, reading a book. Old age makes strange changes in our interests. I don’t have to tell you this… But what is really important is that you’re getting well little by little. Radiotherapy is not exactly a piece of cake but it’s not also a new level in Dante’s Inferno. I saw the photos of Port Macquarie, the Rotary Lodge is situated in a very pleasant scenery.  A lot of trees, low constructions, I even think I saw the kookaburras in a photo.  In my ignorance, I thought a kookaburra was some kind of parrot, but now I know it’s a coraciiforme, the order of the ravens.  Here in Brazil we have a very similar bird, of the same order, the martim pescador (fisher martim), that eats fishes as its name says. It’s very good to know that you are again writing more long waffles, hearing birds, taking photos, and thinking of the Odyssey.

Nope, Oz has lots of parrots (as does Brazil) but the kookaburra is not one of them. It's a relative of the kingfisher but it doesn't eat fish. And yes, it's good to be getting a little healthier and thinking about the Odyssey again. What else would I do? Thanks, Joao. I'll keep eating my vitamins and saving my pennies.

Just phoned the upholsterer bloke who's gonna fit the replacement floor carpet I bought on eBay last year for the Ute. According to the Ford dealer he does a great job, but he's busy as hell again so I gotta wait till after I get back from my next radiation treatment in Port Macquarie about mid March. Oh well... no worries. It'll be nice to have that part of the car tidied up, though.

Averil's niece and her husband arrived in their caravan today to stay for a week or so before moseying on... taking some sort of leisurely trip somewhere. They live in Cairns Queensland. Later this year, they'll be traveling the country for 5 months. I think they're planning to do the big one one of these days but haven't quite prepared for it yet. Anyway, Averil's all excited about having guests for a while to fuss over... and I suppose I'll pop over sometime during the week to say g'day.

Aussies have been remembering Australia's Pearl Harbor this past week. Australia's what? Yep. It's 70 years since Japanese bombers swooped on Darwin, in northern Australia, sinking Allied ships in the harbour and killing hundreds of people. For years the attack was rarely mentioned, but now the story is finally being told. Read on and learn a little about one of our less dignified battles.

And in other Aussie news, it looks like we'll have another leadership battle next week when Parliament resumes between PM Julia Gillard and former PM Kevin Rudd. I don't like either of them.

Well, it's that time of day to post the Waffle and then relax with a bit of TV and something to eat. Yeah, right... liquid down a tube. I'm really hanging out for something to CHEW and SWALLOW! I can grind my side teeth but there's still not much feeling in the underside of my tongue... and it's still swollen. But maybe it won't be too much longer before I can eat properly again. As NC Art says, these things will pass. Gary

February 19, 2012. Thanks to TX Greg for alerting me to a prob with one of the pics on the Rotary Lodge album yesterday (#7). Fixed now. I rather liked that place... especially all that open space in front of the main window (even though it was a car park with a hospital behind). On the other 3 sides it was mainly bush with lots of birdlife. Mornings were a cacophony of bird calls, and a rather pleasant way to greet the day. It's a similar situation here in Taree but not quite as intense and the space isn't as open (houses all around and a main road outside). 

This cancer thing has caused me a little soul searching lately, and to wonder who I am. I've been many people over the years, from the song and dance man on radio to the writer/producer on TV and video to the unemployed washed-up has-been of the late '90s. Then along came Cody and I became MrB, creator of Daniel's Diary, and then the author of 2 Green Rooms. Later, the idea of Aussie Odyssey appealed to me and I adopted that as my identity even though it was almost impossible to get it happening. And then whammo... the Big C. Who was I then? I could have fallen off the perch without a trace... Mr Nobody. Even Lindsay said, "You're no good to Sue any more." I felt quite alone and desperate during those dark brooding moments wondering what the point of my existence was. 

So now I have to make an extra effort to get my Odyssey act together, and to get well again. I have to stop dreaming and start doing. If I don't make the Odyssey happen, who am I? I must have my stories to tell and pictures to show. The Story Teller Man. That's who I am. 

760kms so far on the Ute trip meter since the Ford Service and the engine oil is still full (and clean), so I guess that puts paid to any worries about leaky valve stem seals. Almost 3 months I've had that car now, and I reckon I've done okay.

Late yesterday, as I waffled about budgets, etc, I reminded myself I hadn't renewed my Lotto subscription, so I did... and guess what? I won a minor prize this morning hehe. Gotta have my few bucks on Lotto...  it's called Hope. As to the budget, I just completed my application on line for transfer to age pension from carer. That's it. Over and done with. Outta the way. Seeya later. I'm not gonna be beholding to L&S any more for any reason. For the time being I'll remain living here to share the cost of rent and power but that's it. I'm Mr Independent. They can do what they choose.

Back from a natter with Averil, which was a bit of a change from the regular routine and an excuse to exercise the tonsils. Gotta keep those vocal muscles lubricated ya know. Averil asked about the side effects of the radiation therapy but I said there weren't any - yet. In fact, I'm feeling much better than I was before the therapy started. Also, my mental agility has improved... I'm writing better and thinking better. So don't ask me what these doctors and nurses are saying about pain and discomfort. I seem to be doing okay.

After watching the TV in Rotary Lodge the past few days I think it's about time I flicked this old analogue of mine. I bought it used for $90 7 or 8 years ago and it's just about had it. Besides, analogue ceases transmission in Oz about mid year and it'll all be digitial. I could get a set-top box but it's not worth it. So here's a little cheapie that seems to do all the right things. I won't bother with pay TV... don't watch enough to warrant it. Digital free to air has about 20+ channels... that'll do.

Seeya tomorrow. Gary

February 18, 2012. Home again in Taree! I was kinda getting used to my room at Rotary Lodge in Port Macquarie and the new routine. Maybe that's a clue as to I'll settle down in various places along my travels during the Odyssey... so long as I have my little "house" on the back of the Ute, I'll be sweet no matter where I am.

On the drive back along the Pacific Hwy this morning, a police car went past me like the clappers (and I was doing 10kph over the limit hehe). I spotted him some distance later with another copper booking two truckies. Those truckies fly and I'm surprised they don't get pinched more often. Meanwhile, the Ute runs like a dream along that sealed ribbon of 4-lane road. 

Roite, just finished putting together and posting the pics and journal of my 4 days at Rotary Lodge for the radiotherapy, etc. All very exciting. 

It is with some trepidation that I face the immediate future, and even longer term. I told Lindsay today that I'm quitting being Sue's carer and transferring to age pension, which will be mean almost 4 grand less a year, or a fifth of my total annual income. That's a pretty big chunk. It means I can't save without some difficulty, and spending-cash won't be easy to come by. I can manage, but only by being pennywise... no booze, no smokes, no gambling (cept Lotto), no restaurants, etc. I'm not sure how it'll affect my slide-on camper plans. 

Anyway, I've got a while to think about these things more deeply while I recouperate from this cancer biz. Catch you tomorrow, dear Breth. Gary

February 17, 2012. Oops, got yesterday's date wrong... fixed now though. Pretty easy to lose track of time here. Just back from my second day's first zap... pretty straight forward. Bit claustrophobic strapped alone in that huge machine though, with all those whirring and clicking noises. I've got a couple of pics of it plus a few others which I'll post later.

NC Art wrote:  Aussie Medicare is a system Americans should envy! We can't agree even on contraceptive use by women. Shussh! Glad your day was a better one, and apparently your brain is not so scrambled as you think; writing is coherent, matey.
    Radiation therapy is a strange beast. One example concerns my brother-in-law who had a jaw cancer zapped. He was told to stay out of sun UV exposure for months. Instead he pruned his orchard trees, mowed the grass--and suddenly lost his hearing.
After a year of hearing aids he suddenly regained full hearing. Five years later the ears betrayed him again and it was back to hearing aids which he turned off when he didn't want to listen to gabbling people. He is now 95 and missing such nuisances as a gall bladder, prostate gland, etc.
    Life's a real goofy drama, what?

I'm thankful for Medicare of course...if it weren't for Medicare I wouldn't be around to be thankful for anything. So far, the main and second operations have been free, all hospital accom, 3/4 lodge accom and part public transport (train). I've not heard about petrol but I won't bother... I don't wanna be greedy. I've even been given stacks of free tube food!

OH Jace wrote and reminded me that it was Valentine's Day (as did OR Richie). Both the guys and their ladies celebrated, which was nice. Jace's e-card get-well message to me wanted to known how to email a hug, which I thought was cute. Thanks Jace (I suspected it was June's idea hehe). Meanwhile, all the Ohio gang is fine except for little Ryan who has a bruised chin from learning to crawl. Poor kid. But most importantly, Jace succeeded in finally convincing local authorities to honor something very near and dear to his heart: I got some very good news. Remember me telling you about Paul Mardis? Well, after a bit of emailing the Veteran Services they have decided to name a bridge in Paul's honor for his sacrifice in Iraq. I did say I would pay for it to get them to agree. At first they said it could not be the same color as the KIA signs, red, so I suggested blue. Now they have decided it can be red, which will make it an officially sanctioned memorial sign with all the trappings. Of course it will have DOW (died of wounds) instead of KIA.

Such tributes mean a lot to Jace so I'm glad for him. He must be chuffed.

As to me, I'm feeling quite a bit better and even more energetic... I can walk further without tiring or worrying about having to sit or rest. Maybe all these good wishes (and prayers from Justin) are working hehe. The radiation doesn't seem to have kicked in yet but the nurse this morning said that may take a few days yet. We'll see.

Yesterday afternoon as I waited my turn for the zapper, an old bloke emerged and was talking to the operator about his house in Mission Beach QLD between Townsville and Cairns, which he said was demolished during the last cyclone. He said there was nothing to do but replace it. "I'll have to rebuild it!" Oh yeah? And he's 95? Hehe. Nice to see an old geezer still looking foward to life. And he had nothing but praise for the beauty of Mission Beach. I've not been there but I've been to Townsville and parts of the GBR.

I've just had my 11am tube feed andI'm still hungry, so I'm pigging out on an apple & cinnamon puree... I guess I am feeling better.

It's 5pm and that's the last of the radioscans for this "quad"... back in a month. I spoke to the dietician earlier today and told her about Aussie Odyssey. She asked how long I expected it to take me to fully recover, and then she answered her own question by saying I should be prepared to give it at least six months. That doesn't surprise me.

So now I'll update Waffle and have another tube feed, watch a bit of telly and then drive home tomorrow morning. Gary

February 16, 2012. Just got zapped by radiation for the second time today, and have another two sessions tomorrow before I drive home Saturday morning. I've been told lots of stories about radiation therapy, but for me - so far, after two squirts - I've noticed no difference. Not a tingle. Nuthin. I'll letta ya know how it goes after another two bursts tomorrow.

I settled the Rotary Lodge account today. The hospital decided to pick up the tab for 3 days and I paid for only one, that $43. How's that for cool? That's comfort, privacy, and no noisy snorers! Beats the hell outta a public ward.

How's that for Aussie Medicare?

OR Richie wrote and mentioned Port Maquararie. It's a lovely spot about half way between Taree to the south and Coffs Harbor to the north. I was last here when the HMB Endeavor was in town. Richie mentioned any photo opps this time around but I'm a little too sick to bother. My brain is still pretty scrambled... kinda like alphabet soup and I have a lot of trouble sorting it out... although I do feel a little better today. I'll mention OH Jace tomorrow. Gary

February 15, 2012. Arrived here day before yesterday and am installed at the Rotary Lodge. A few hours ago I updated the Waffle page and stuffed it up again after it took ages... I can't concentrate or construct sentences very well. It was only 2 paragraphs.

Saw my dietician yesterday, and speech therapist today. Tomorrow I have two appointments with the radiologist and two again the following day, then I drive home on Saturday.

A bloke called into my room at the Lodge today and invited me to a BBQ in the common area but I had to refuse... can't eat solid food. Can drink beer but I better not. I can smell it too, and he seems a real nice bloke. And one other thing, I slept like a log last night and woke this morning to more kookaburras and other wild birds than you can poke a stick at... this hospital is out in a bush setting. Gary

February 13, 2012. I leave tomorrow morning again for Port Macquarie and stay until Saturday morning, but I'll have the netbook with me. On Thursday and Friday I'll be given two double doses of radiation as the beginning of my radio therapy, then I'll have a break for 4 weeks before the same thing happens again.

I trotted into Averil's place today for a bit of a chat... walked there and back which was a bit of exercise. It's the first time she has seen me since early January, and she was very happy to do so. I rather enjoy a bit of a natter with the old girl too... as well as the others who pop in and out through the day. Apart from that it was a change of scenery from sitting my office all day or sleeping all night in my bedroom. That old routine gets pretty bloody monotonous. When I return from Port Macquarie this time I'll make it a habit to pop into Av's place regularly for a chat... it'll be good for my speech therapy and also exercising neck and facial muscles generally. L&S are hopeless as conversationalists, even with each other. Check ya tomorrow. Gary

February 12, 2011. Apart from reading email and filling the Ute's tank with petrol today (and taking Lindsay with me just in case I couldn't manage the walk from the bowser to the checkout) all I've done is tube feed and sleep. I have soooo little to energy to do anything, it's driving me balmny. At the mo my life revolves around 5 little bottles a day of hospital food...  8am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm. That's it.

TX Greg wrote: I was hoping you were doing better, but that just suxs!!! You didn't say but has the surgery healed ok? "Since the operation on my neck in early February"  Oops you meant January! Thanks, Greg. Yep the first op was January 5. The original surgery healed okay but the tongue is a bit slow to get back to normal. It's better but I still can't eat properly or speak properly yet. They said six weeks, which is it is what it is now.

Dave also writes and suggests I'm very concerned about the radiotherapy. Yes, I am, and particularly its affect on my throat. "Imagine the worst sunburn you've had in your life," to quote the doc Dave also talks about travel between Taree and Port Macquarie. That's by car, Dave. Train is what I use when I travel to Sydney, about 4 times as far. As to seeking a second or third medical opinion, I'm a freebie. I get one choice and once choice only. But I appreciate your comments and wishes, Dave. Thanks.

Good ol' NC Art wrote: Missed your banter while you were in hospital. Sorry about all the crap, but just pull up your testicles, hang on and don't let the bastards get you down. I queried JustinO if he had heard while you were incognito, he sent query on and a Stateside acquaintance who called the hospital just after you were discharged. The gang was wondering, pal. I'm afraid there's not much of the banter left, Art... my humor has failed me as has my mental and physical energy. I don't feel like ME anymore.

One of Justin's followers wrote: We're pulling for you over here in the cold North. Hope your feeling better soon.

Even Justin himself wrote yesterday and responded to my reply today: 

Hey there Mate. . g'day!  Very good to hear from you.  I do understand the utter lack of energy to do much of anything. . .even to write an email.  Having spent weeks recovering from several surgeries I know how weak we can get. . .even a high schooler in his prime. . hehe. . the over-all lassitude. . . empty weakness. From reading the happy replies from the guys you've got to know we love you and appreciate you and want only the best for you.  So, duude, we are energizing you, collectively raising you up, praying for you, holding you in our hearts. . . take your pick. . . "ain't thet noice?"  hahahahaaa

One day at a time. . . or often, one hour at a time. . . you are healing. . .

Peter says to tell you you've got to get better: you have too many guys to take care of yet. . .;-))

love from us,
Peter and JustinO

And of course OR Richie wrote to say I'm in his thoughts. Thanks everybody for reminding me who I am. Gary

February 11, 2012. Back home again after a confusing time at the hospital. The main doc laid down the law; he wanted to know if I was confident of making it through the full six weeks of radiation therapy and I said I wasn't sure. People keep telling me stories about how horrendous it is or can be, particularly in my case - radiation of the throat (both sides) which will cause severe burning and swallowing difficulty. He says if I don't practice swallowing food and drink regularly (and rely too much on the stomach tube) the 200 muscles used to coordinate swallowing as well as some speech will become useless. He said if I don't go through the radiation process, and the cancer returns, I'm a dead man. Well, you can't get much more direct than that. Then he offered me an alternative treatment. A double dose of radiation over 2 days (4 doses) and then a 4 week break before another double dose. I'm not sure how how many double treatments there are... maybe two or three. He says the alternative treatment is not as effective but my chances of sticking to it are better. 

Many people undergoing radiation don't have major difficulties with side effects because the parts of the body being treated are not as sensitive to radiation as the throat is.

Last December I walked around Circular Quay, Sydney, taking photos of the Harbor Bridge, Opera House and parts of the city. Now I can hardly walk 50 yards. Since the operation on my neck in early February, my stamina has evaporated. Even taking a shower exhausts me. My health has gone and there's no way I can contemplate traveling Oz in this condition. No way. I also have no appetite. All I want to do is sleep.

How I'll feel after the radiation treatment in a few months I don't know. It'll be wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm not sure who I am anymore. By the way, Lindsay says I'm no good as Sue's carer any longer. I can hardly look after myself. He says I should quit my carer's pension and move over to the age pension. That'll cost me $50 a week... I think he wants to take over the job. He forgets I've been taking care of him for 10 years without pay. Ungrateful shit. Gary

February 7, 2012. Here I am at Port Macquarie Hospital in a ward with two rough and tumble country blokes and one very proper Englishmen. I'll be here for a few days at least being fattened up and hydrated in readiness for the radiation therapy which starts next Monday. Whether I remain here during the full length of the radiation treatment (6 weeks) or commute from home each day, I'm not sure - no one is, so stay tuned. Gary

February 6, 2012. Before I go any further, I've been having difficulty writing lately. I think it's something to do with my eyes - my focus - after a while my eyes get tired of focusing on particular words and seem to jump in and out of focus, causing some distress. So I'm keeping my writing down to a minimum. I'm also hallucenating to some extent, mainly during sleep...imagining difficulty breathing and odd things happening to my body... as if I'm losing my sense of reality. I think the feelings are related to tube feeding and a total absence of my previous normal routine. It's a bit scary, actually.

Speaking of not normal, Francois wrote: With your flooding, you're sending us a tropical cyclone: not normal! If I survive to it I'd come and kick your ass when you're better ;) So prepare soon your ass, Gary! Then you'll not be even able to sit!
hehehe see you soon in good health

Yes, we're getting another serious dose of last year's floods, especially in NW New South Wales and SE Queensland. What a mess! And it's rocking Francois' boat.

Richie often sends links to pics of aircraft (including a few of those on which he flew to S. Africa recently). Here's one of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background. This is the Delta jet they flew to SA. And here's one just for the helluva it of a beautiful old Constellation.

Looks like I might be using Rotary House for accommodation - it's provided by the hospital at Port Macquarie for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Meanwhile, the doc phoned and said he and the team are worried that I'm not getting enough hydration and nutrition prior to the start of my radiation treatment next Monday, so they want me in hospital tomorrow morning to be fattened up for the next few days. I'll take my phone and netbook with me. Gary

February 5, 2012. João from Brazil wrote: This summer isn’t being for you that kind of summer that deserves to become endless, like a surfer’s one. Well, don’t complain, you’re not a surfer… yet. In the last few years you have created and performed some extraordinary projects so I’ll be not surprised if someday I see you surfing in Byron Bay.  I know that your present project is the Odyssey (for me the most extraordinary of all), but since you’ll have to stay home for the next months I suggest another herculean  task you can do comfortably seated in your room: to explain Australian football to the rest of world. It won’t be easy, I know. I’ve tried to understand and gave up. Logic won’t help it doesn’t matter if Aristotelian, Cartesian or Boolean. Maybe irrational numbers could be useful, I’m not sure. What I’m sure of is: if you could do this, you can do everything. I hope you keep on considering me a friend after my suggestion. Take care and keep getting well.

I understand your joke, Joao. Ho, ho, ho. But I'm afraid I don't understand the game. In fact, I don't understand ANY football code. I made up my mind as a kid that I didn't want any part of running around a field chasing a ball with a bunch of other kids. I felt the same way about using bats, rackets, hands, feet or any other form of propulsion. Any follower of football can check out this website which lists Frequently Asked Questions about Aussie Rules. I think I'll take your advice, Joao... take care and keep getting well. Gary

February 4, 2012. Sue's back from having seven teeth pulled. I'm glad at least someone else is enjoying life as much as I am. Meanwhile, I thought I'd check the oil level in the Ute's engine. Remember, there was some concern about valve stem seals? Well, it's only in the past few weeks that I've had the chance to clock up some miles between here and Port Macquarie, about 400kms. That's a total of about 500 or 600 since I had it serviced. And the dip stick shows full. No worries. Once I start the radiation therapy in mid Feb I'll be covering 1000kms a week so I'll keep an eye on it as well, but I expect it'll fine.

NC Art wrote: To be bored would just add another near intolerable strain on a body and brain already overtaxed by repeated violence! Take it as one small blessing and let the hours do the healing at measured pace. I agree, Art. Allow the body and mind total freedom to mend themselves the way they see fit, without any interference from me or sense of guilt about too much sleep or too little effort. Gary

February 3, 2012. Lindsay walked down to the river this morning to see it almost at street level. We've had a stack of rain lately. There's been a lot of flooding up north as well, and Queensland is copping a bit too. This is the wettest as well as coolest summer I can ever remember.

That's the most interesting thing I've said all day. In fact, that's all I've said all day. How's that for awesome? I wrote the first paragraph this morning and now it's coming up to 4 o'clock. In between, I've gone to the loo a few times, had a few tube meals, slept and/or stared into space. And I'm not bored. Can you imagine that? I'm not the least bit bored. I think I'm too mentally drained to be bored; too exhausted by the past month's events to bother with looking for mental or physical stimulation.

I tried to answer an email from Justin today and got all tangled up in sentences. I'm finding it very difficult to concentrate on detail. My brain is tired. Gary

February 2, 2012. What was I saying about golf balls? Forget it. Yesterday, when I managed to pass the first golf ball, I thought the constipation was all over. Wrong. At 2:30 this morning, I answered a call to nature and spent the next hour or so on the loo. What an incredibly painful experience... but also a huge relief when it was all over! That was up there with heart attacks, major surgery, tooth-pulling and hernias. Actually, the final, comparitively minor push was about 7:30 this morning - that was in total about 2 hours worth of pushing and grimacing. Now I'm back to my feeding-tube regimen, hoping I don't make that same mistake again (insufficient flushing with water before and after each feed). The idea, of course, is to toughen and fatten me up for the radiation therapy course in a few weeks.

My GP arrived this morning, so I told him about my successful attempt at unblocking my colon after 2 days of constipation, "So I saved you a job," I said. "You would have needed to give me an anema." "No, he smiled," no anema... I would have given you something to take." How sensible. All that other business is for the birds. Actually, the doc reckons now I know what childbirth is like. Fortunately for L&S and the neighbors, I didn't make as much noise. The doc also checked my blood pressure, said the kind of things that have happened to me after two ops is perfectly normal, has taken me off two of the medications and kept me on another two until further notice. No biggie. He'll visit me again the morning before I leave for the first dose of radiation in Port Macquarie.

NC Art wrote: Re views from a train, I often commuted from home to jobs in other towns. Once I beheld the spectacle of a large barn in the course of exploding from a critical mass of grain dust. Spectacular. In that same stretch of highway one afternoon, I glanced toward a house in front of which a lad found a novel way to entertain passing motorists. He had a garden hose behind him with the nozzle held between his legs, but the arrangement were not until after the performance. As cars came in view he opened the valve to project a very respectable stream. Attention was paid! In my rear view mirror I noticed the following vehicle veer wildly as our lad entertained an elder lady driver. Sounds like something Daniel would dream up. Hehe.

You've got Daniel nailed, Art. What a young terror he was! Don't ask me where he came from. He kinda popped up on the pages of his Diary as if by magic... something like a naughty version of Peter Pan would do. And the more Daniel pushed the boundaries, the more impressed Cody became, and the more he demanded. But Daniel always seemed to know where to draw the line. It was a fine balancing act between being outrageous and giving the fans new thrills without upsetting his folks or getting himself into too much serious crap with the authorities. Yes, a most remarkable scallywag and one I'm never likely to encounter again. That was an era that belonged to Code, Mark, Wingnut, Steph, Steve and a few others, and even though most of them are still here, it will never be the same.

Just had my third tube meal today and everything seems to be working okay, including business in the loo. Hopefully all this Superman food and vitamins and minerals will get me into shape in about a week or so. Gary

February 1, 2012. What a way to start a new month! With constipation! Actually, it's a bit of both... I'm constantly leaking past a blockage in my bowel... kinda like the way my dad used to fix a leaky radiator with a potato, except it wouldn't stop leaking, just a little bit. The nutritionist phoned earlier to see how I was getting along. She agrees that I have a blockage and that it's not wise to consume any more hi-fiber food at the mo, so she suggests an enema, and then go back to square one. Goody, goody. Just what I always wanted... an enema. My GP's coming around in the morning to see about the blood pressure, so I'll tell him about the blockage as well. Actually, if I can get this tube feeding thing down Pat life won't be so bad... it's just my bowel I gotta convince to play ball.

Meanwhile, the good thing about starting a new month is that one has just ended. One down, two to go.

Here's a couple of funnies from NC Art:

Come to think of it, the enema reminds me of a scene through the train window on the way back to Taree from Sydney recently. We were passing a couple of rural homes with large backyards, one of which was home to a greyhound happily defecating a monster as we sailed past. Charming. Maybe that was some sort of sign. Here's a kinda cross between an enema and posting a letter.

I'll let y'all know how it goes tomorrow. No I won't, I'll let you know now. You know those human cannon balls at the circus? Well, it was a bit like that. No, no, that's not true. For the umpteenth time I sat on the loo in an attempt to dislodge this thing from my colon before the doc arrives tomorrow, but rose in defeat once again, except this time I felt greater pressure on my bowels as I straightened my legs and used my stomach muscles. I sensed something moving, or at least attempting to dislodge in my colon. Hello? Could this be the big moment after more than two days of being constipated? After quite a long time pushing and breathing hard (and worrying about Sue barging in at any moment), I checked the bottom of the bowl. Nuttin. So I resumed my previous half-erect stance (as in standing on two bent legs) and pushed again. Then I sat again, and did some more pushing - firmly but gently - you know the routine. Still very little evidence of any substantial poo in the bottom of the bowl, so I grabbed some paper and felt around under my butt. Ooer! A lump! But the lump went further inside my anus, so I used a finger to pressure the exterior of the lump and out popped something like a ball of tightly wound string about the size of a golf ball (too much fiber and not enough water during consumption). Success! Now I can sleep tonight without getting up every hour to squat with barely a result. Tellya what, I made that bloody greyhound look a bit ordinary this time. And as a bonus, I won't have to have my GP poking and/or peering up my anus tomorrow morning. Gary


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